Wilkerson Brothers

WILLIAMSVILLE BANK ROBBER RECENTLY LEFT PARAGOULD

THE WEEKLY SOLIPHONE

FRIDAY , MARCH 5 , 1915

TRANSCRIBED BY : TINA EASLEY

tina@grnco.net

http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ar/county/greene/

 

FRANK WILKERSON , WHO WITH HIS BROTHER , PULLED OFF A SPECTACULAR AND HIGHLY SENSATIONAL BANK ROBBERY THE OTHER DAY AT WILLIAMSVILLE , MO. A SHORT DISTANCE NORTH OF POPLAR BLUFF , IS WELL KNOWN IN PARAGOULD . HE WAS EMPLOYED AS "SWING" BRAKEMAN ON THE IRON MOUNTAIN , RUNNING FROM HERE TO ST. FRANCIS . HE CHECKED OUT OF HERE LESS THAN TWO WEEKS AGO AND SAID HE WAS GOING TO TAKE A VACATION.

LAST MONDAY HE AND HIS BROTHER ENTERED THE BANK AT WILLIAMSVILLE FOR THE PURPOSE OF ROBBING THE INSTITUTION. THEY RAN INTO A MEETING OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS , AND PROMPTLY COVERED THE FIVE MEN WITH WEAPONS , AND FORCED THEM TO ENTER THE VAULT. THE YOUNG MEN THEN TOOK THE FUNDS IN SIGHT , AMOUNTING TO $1,300 AND SKIPPED. A POSSE WAS IMMEDIATELY ORGANIZED AND WENT IN PURSUIT OF THE WILKERSONS . SEVERAL SHOTS WERE FIRED AT THE FLEEING ROBBERS AND THE CHASE BECAME SO HOT THAT THE BANDITS JUMPED INTO BLACK RIVER . FRANK WILKERSON CLAIMS HIS BROTHER WAS DROWNED IN THE RIVER AND THAT THE MONEY WENT DOWN WITH HIM. FRANK FAILED TO SWIM THE RIVER AND WAS FORCED TO ANCHOR HIMSELF TO A SNAG. HE WAS CAPTURED AND LODGED IN JAIL.

THE FOLLOWING ACCOUNT OF THE CHASE IS TAKEN FROM THE REPUBLICAN OF POPLAR BLUFF, MO.

W.K. ANDREWS , BETTER KNOWN AS " COTTON ANDREWS , WHO HAD CHARGE OF THE POPLAR BLUFF BLOODHOUNDS THAT HEADED THE POSSE IN ITS LONG CHASE AFTER THE WILLIAMSVILLE BANK ROBBERS TODAY GAVE A DAILY REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE AN ACCOUNT OF HIS THRILLING TRIP . IN ALL THE BLOODHOUNDS TRAILED THEIR MEN OVER TWENTY-FIVE MILES , AND WERE LARGELY INSTRUMENTAL IN THEIR CAPTURE.

AFTER WE ARRIVED IN WILLIAMSVILLE , STATED ANDREW THIS MORNING , WE WENT DIRECTLY TO THE WILLIAMSVILLE BANK , WHERE THE DOGS TOOK UP THE TRAIL. THE BANDITS HEADED NORTHWEST OF WILLIAMSVILLE TOWARD GREENVILLE AND PROCEEDED IN THAT DIRECTION FOR ABOUT SIX MILES . THEY THEN CIRCLED AROUND AND HEADED BACK TOWARD THE IRON MOUNTAIN RAILROAD.

AS SOON AS WE SAW THAT OUR MEN APPARENTLY INTENDED TO STRIKE THE RAILROAD , WE IMMEDIATELY FIGURED THAT THEY WOULD ATTEMPT TO CATCH A TRAIN AT THE MILL SPRINGS WATER TANK. CONSEQUENTLY ONE OF OUR MEN TELEPHONED TO THE SHERIFF AT WILLIAMSVILLE , WHO WITH A DEPUTY TOOK A SPEEDER AND RODE AT FULL SPEED TO MILL SPRINGS , WHERE THEY HID NEAR THE TANK WITH A PARTY. SURE ENOUGH , THE DOGS TRAILED THE ROBBERS TO A POINT ON THE IRON MOUNTAIN ROAD NEAR GRANITE BEND, ABOUT FOUR MILES ABOVE MILL SPRINGS . AS SOON AS WE SAW THAT THEY WERE HEADED STRAIGHT DOWN THE TRACK , WE CHARTERED A HAND CAR , AND CAME ON DOWN TO MILL SPRINGS .

MEANWHILE THE BANDITS HAD WALKED STRAIGHT INTO THE TRAP SET FOR THEM. WHEN ABOUT SEVENTY-FIVE YARDS FROM THE HIDING POSSE , THEY WERE COMMANDED TO THROW-UP THEIR HANDS. BOTH OPENED FIRE , AND A FUSILLADE OF SHOTS WAS EXCHANGED . THE IRON MOUNTAIN TRACK AT THIS POINT RUNS ALONG THE RIVER BANK WITH ONLY A FENCE AND A FEW FEET OF GROUND BETWEEN IT AND THE WATER . BOTH ROBBERS CRAWLED THROUGH THIS FENCE AND SLID DOWN THE BANK AND IT IS HERE THAT ONE OF THEM IS SUPPOSED TO HAVE BEEN WOUNDED.

BOTH BLOODHOUNDS TOOK UP THE TRAIL AGAIN AT THE FENCE BUT THE ROBBERS HAD DISAPPEARED. FRANK WILKERSON LATER GAVE HIMSELF UP.

IF IT HAD NOT BEEN FOR THE POPLAR BLUFF BLOODHOUNDS , IT IS DOUBTFUL IF THE BANK ROBBERS WOULD HAVE BEEN CAPTURED. IT WAS ONLY DUE TO THEIR GOOD WORK THAT OFFICERS WERE ABLE TO TELL WHAT DIRECTION THE BANDITS HAD TAKEN .

PEOPLE AT WILLIAMSVILLE NOW SEEM INCLINED TO DOUBT THE STORY OF FRANK WILKERSON ABOUT HIS BROTHER DROWNING . NO TRACE HAS BEEN FOUND OF THE LATTER'S BODY AND IT IS THOUGHT POSSIBLE THAT HE MAY HAVE ESCAPED , AND THAT HIS BROTHER'S STORY WAS ONLY A BLIND ."